harbottle trainee

Harbottle & Lewis has retained none of its three qualifying trainees this autumn, blaming Covid.

The firm came clean about its 0% retention rate via a note smuggled into the bottom of its profile in Chambers Student. Although the unfortunate phrasing - "due to Covid-19 the firm did not retain any of its three autumn qualifiers" - suggested the trainees caught Covid and died, "they did not", clarified a source. All managed to secure jobs elsewhere.

The firm was less forthcoming with the trainees themselves, said a source, who were given "no specifics" and told only that there would be no qualification offers due to "financial reasons".

In a humiliating blow, management did not tell any other employees about its 0% retention policy, said a source, leaving the trainees to "self-announce" that they were off. "Even on their last day, senior partners and management did not acknowledge the trainees who were being shown the door." 

Harbottle & Lewis was criticised by another source for furloughing its trainees, with the result that they were "effectively robbed of almost an entire seat of their training contracts".

Some departments of the firm, though not all, also had their employment contracts "unilaterally varied", said a source, and had to "swallow a pay cut" while still being expected to "provide normal service levels 5 days a week".

Harbottle & Lewis is not the only firm to take such measures during the pandemic and, said a source, at least it was paying back the cash it claimed, "now that the government has decided it will publish a list of companies that took furlough money".

The firm did not respond to requests for comment.

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Tip Off ROF


Ha, bottled 20 November 20 10:10

Such a grubby firm, that pretends it's all cool and modern with an aura of smugness around it but here we go, true colours showing.

Anon 20 November 20 17:55

I'm not sure if anyone at Roll on Friday realises this, but law firms are businesses. Harbottle's business relies heavily on the entertainment sector which scarcely exists any more.

This whole article, frankly, is a disgrace. It oozes entitlement and encourages young lawyers to think they have a god-given right to a permanent job at the end of their training contracts. Young people up and down the country are having a dreadful time of it, yet RoF continues to peddle the notion that trainee solicitors should insulated from economic reality. 


Captain Oates 20 November 20 18:08

Anon, the criticism is of the way it’s managed the crisis, not the fact it’s in a crisis. There’s a right and a wrong way to treat staff when backs are against the wall. 

The truth 20 November 20 21:42

Captain Oats clearly uninformed....

The facts:

Prudence at time of trainee qualification. 

Helped zero lawyer redundancies through pandemic.

All Harbottle lawyers paid up in full. Indeed bonuses paid.

Furloughed trainees fully engaged in training throughout furlough period.

All furlough payments repaid to HM Govt

Really RoF this is nothing more than a platform for misinformation. Do some research









Entitled Little Brat 20 November 20 22:10

Well, at the end of the day, they had their LPC (and maybe CPE) paid for, received two years of training and salary at a mid tier City firm and obtained their qualifications as solicitors. They are now gainfully employed somewhere else. Not sure they should feel hard done by, pampered little *#@%! Welcome to commercial reality. 

Rubbo 23 November 20 15:45

For all those noting that law firms are businesses with commercial imperatives etc. may I humbly point out that some of the biggest firms increased PEP during the financial crisis whilst makes a good many associates redundant and not keeping trainees on. 

(apparently) an entitled brat 26 November 20 11:25

Nice to see HL damage control team in the comments above. The reality is the behaviour and handling of the Covid impact by the firm was completely off-market and seems like a clear cash grab by management with little to no communication to those impacted. 

Go take a look at other firms for instruction on how to comport yourself and look after your staff. 

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